Geographic Information Systems (GIS): GIS lab computers & software

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The GIS & Data lab, housed on the 1st floor of Rotch Library (7-238), is available for use during Rotch's operating hours. Software and one-on-one help is for use by the MIT Community only.

Computer Policies

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Extended Use / Processing Tasks:


The GIS lab computers are primarily for use by MIT community members who are actively working with GIS or statistics software. Computers #13-#16 can be used to run processing tasks for an extended amount of time in certain circumstances. Follow these procedures:

GIS staff are not responsible for monitoring the processes. The GIS lab is open to all MIT community members and is not staffed most of the time.

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Welcome to the open learning GIS lab. I started this site as a way to share my knowledge in GIS with others. I am passionate about open source GIS and hope that this site can act as a spring board to creating some local interest in open sourcce GIS, and hopefully provide an opportunity for the GIS user community in Hawaii to share and learn from each other. Although the primary focus will be on open source GIS related software, you will also find tutorials/guides for ArcGIS as well. If you are interested in helping start an open source GIS community and user group, please contact me. I would love to hear from you.

GIS.lab is capable to deploy a complete, centrally managed and horizontally scalable GIS infrastructure in local area network (LAN), data center or cloud in a few moments. It provides comprehensive set of free geospatial software seamlessly integrated in to one, easy-to-use system.


GIS.lab lowers deployment and ownership cost of complex geospatial solution to absolute minimum, while still keeping whole technology in house and under full control.

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GIS lab can be used in places and conditions where deployment of any other technology wouldn't be affordable or technically possible. GIS.lab is capable to turn bunch of heterogeneous or broken computers in to crisis management command center, flawlessly working in very hard conditions of natural disaster with power and Internet outages. It is also ideal system for education or just for Open Source technologies popularization.


Key benefits:

Key features:

Gem Certification

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A geographic information system (GIS) is a system designed to capture, store, manipulate, analyze, manage, and present spatial or geographic data. GIS applications are tools that allow users to create interactive queries (user-created searches), analyze spatial information, edit data in maps, and present the results of all these operations. GIS (more commonly GIScience) sometimes refers to geographic information science (GIScience), the science underlying geographic concepts, applications, and systems.

GIS can refer to a number of different technologies, processes, and methods. It is attached to many operations and has many applications related to engineering, planning, management, transport/logistics, insurance, telecommunications, and business.[2] For that reason, GIS and location intelligence applications can be the foundation for many location-enabled services that rely on analysis and visualization.

GIS can relate unrelated information by using location as the key index variable. Locations or extents in the Earth space–time may be recorded as dates/times of occurrence, and x, y, and z coordinates representing, longitude, latitude, and elevation, respectively. All Earth-based spatial–temporal location and extent references should be relatable to one another and ultimately to a "real" physical location or extent. This key characteristic of GIS has begun to open new avenues of scientific inquiry.

History of development

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The first known use of the term "geographic information system" was by Roger Tomlinson in the year 1968 in his paper "A Geographic Information System for Regional Planning". Tomlinson is also acknowledged as the "father of GIS

Previously, one of the first applications of spatial analysis in epidemiology is the 1832 "Rapport sur la marche et les effets du choléra dans Paris et le département de la Seine". The French geographer Charles Picquet represented the 48 districts of the city of Paris by halftone color gradient according to the number of deaths by cholera per 1,000 inhabitants. In 1854 John Snow determined the source of a cholera outbreak in London by marking points on a map depicting where the cholera victims lived, and connecting the cluster that he found with a nearby water source. This was one of the earliest successful uses of a geographic methodology in epidemiology. While the basic elements of topography and theme existed previously in cartography, the John Snow map was unique, using cartographic methods not only to depict but also to analyze clusters of geographically dependent phenomena.

The early 20th century saw the development of photozincography, which allowed maps to be split into layers, for example one layer for vegetation and another for water. This was particularly used for printing contours – drawing these was a labour-intensive task but having them on a separate layer meant they could be worked on without the other layers to confuse the draughtsman. This work was originally drawn on glass plates but later plastic film was introduced, with the advantages of being lighter, using less storage space and being less brittle, among others. When all the layers were finished, they were combined into one image using a large process camera. Once color printing came in, the layers idea was also used for creating separate printing plates for each color. While the use of layers much later became one of the main typical features of a contemporary GIS, the photographic process just described is not considered to be a GIS in itself – as the maps were just images with no database to link them to.

Computer hardware development spurred by nuclear weapon research led to general-purpose computer "mapping" applications by the early 1960s.

he year 1960 saw the development of the world's first true operational GIS in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, by the federal Department of Forestry and Rural Development. Developed by Dr. Roger Tomlinson, it was called the Canada Geographic Information System (CGIS) and was used to store, analyze, and manipulate data collected for the Canada Land Inventory – an effort to determine the land capability for rural Canada by mapping information about soils, agriculture, recreation, wildlife, waterfowl, forestry and land use at a scale of 1:50,000. A rating classification factor was also added to permit analysis.

CGIS was an improvement over "computer mapping" applications as it provided capabilities for overlay, measurement, and digitizing/scanning. It supported a national coordinate system that spanned the continent, coded lines as arcs having a true embedded topology and it stored the attribute and locational information in separate files. As a result of this, Tomlinson has become known as the "father of GIS", particularly for his use of overlays in promoting the spatial analysis of convergent geographic data.

CGIS lasted into the 1990s and built a large digital land resource database in Canada. It was developed as a mainframe-based system in support of federal and provincial resource planning and management. Its strength was continent-wide analysis of complex datasets. The CGIS was never available commercially.

In 1964 Howard T. Fisher formed the Laboratory for Computer Graphics and Spatial Analysis at the Harvard Graduate School of Design (LCGSA 1965–1991), where a number of important theoretical concepts in spatial data handling were developed, and which by the 1970s had distributed seminal software code and systems, such as SYMAP, GRID, and ODYSSEY – that served as sources for subsequent commercial development—to universities, research centers and corporations worldwide.

By the late 1970s two public domain GIS systems (MOSS and GRASS GIS) were in development, and by the early 1980s, M&S Computing (later Intergraph) along with Bentley Systems Incorporated for the CAD platform, Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI), CARIS (Computer Aided Resource Information System), MapInfo Corporation and ERDAS (Earth Resource Data Analysis System) emerged as commercial vendors of GIS software, successfully incorporating many of the CGIS features, combining the first generation approach to separation of spatial and attribute information with a second generation approach to organizing attribute data into database structures.

In 1986, Mapping Display and Analysis System (MIDAS), the first desktop GIS product[citation needed] was released for the DOS operating system. This was renamed in 1990 to MapInfo for Windows when it was ported to the Microsoft Windows platform. This began the process of moving GIS from the research department into the business environment.

By the end of the 20th century, the rapid growth in various systems had been consolidated and standardized on relatively few platforms and users were beginning to explore viewing GIS data over the Internet, requiring data format and transfer standards. More recently, a growing number of free, open-source GIS packages run on a range of operating systems and can be customized to perform specific tasks. Increasingly geospatial data and mapping applications are being made available via the World Wide Web (see List of GIS software § GIS as a service).
Several articles on the history of GIS have been published

GIS Certification

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Techniques and technology



The Data & GIS Lab supports the full data lifecycle in quantitative, qualitative, and geographical research at UCSD. We can help you find, use, work with, organize and manage geospatial, numeric and textual data in various formats. The Lab provides access to and consulting on statistical & geospatial tools, including ArcGIS, R, Stata, Python, SPSS & SAS. The Lab also serves as the primary campus base for GIS services, access to GIS data and software, and the only place with staff to provide GIS assistance.

The workstations in the Lab have both statistical software and GIS software. To better serve you, the Lab contains reference and circulating books for both data and GIS.

GIS and Cartography Lab Information

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Our curriculum uses geographic information systems (GIS) and associated software extensively for research and learning. Here is some information about the available labs with all the software and technology that you will need to use GIS effectively.

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Modern GIS technologies use digital information, for which various digitized data creation methods are used. The most common method of data creation is digitization, where a hard copy map or survey plan is transferred into a digital medium through the use of a CAD program, and geo-referencing capabilities. With the wide availability of ortho-rectified imagery (from satellites, aircraft, Helikites and UAVs), heads-up digitizing is becoming the main avenue through which geographic data is extracted. Heads-up digitizing involves the tracing of geographic data directly on top of the aerial imagery instead of by the traditional method of tracing the geographic form on a separate digitizing tablet (heads-down digitizing).[clarification needed]

Relating information from different sources

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GIS uses spatio-temporal (space-time) location as the key index variable for all other information. Just as a relational database containing text or numbers can relate many different tables using common key index variables, GIS can relate otherwise unrelated information by using location as the key index variable. The key is the location and/or extent in space-time.

Any variable that can be located spatially, and increasingly also temporally, can be referenced using a GIS. Locations or extents in Earth space–time may be recorded as dates/times of occurrence, and x, y, and z coordinates representing, longitude, latitude, and elevation, respectively. These GIS coordinates may represent other quantified systems of temporo-spatial reference (for example, film frame number, stream gage station, highway mile-marker, surveyor benchmark, building address, street intersection, entrance gate, water depth sounding, POS or CAD drawing origin/units). Units applied to recorded temporal-spatial data can vary widely (even when using exactly the same data, see map projections), but all Earth-based spatial–temporal location and extent references should, ideally, be relatable to one another and ultimately to a "real" physical location or extent in space–time.

Related by accurate spatial information, an incredible variety of real-world and projected past or future data can be analyzed, interpreted and represented.[14] This key characteristic of GIS has begun to open new avenues of scientific inquiry into behaviors and patterns of real-world information that previously had not been systematically correlated.

GIS Gem Testing and Certification

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Gem Testing and Certification

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GIS GEm Laboratary Services

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Have you ever heard that a stone is “certified” and wonder what this means? Whether you’re looking at a beautiful sapphire or a brilliant diamond, there are often “certifications” given to gemstones to prove their origin, grade and/or rarity. Certifications offer buyers validation and confidence in their purchases. They are also helpful for appraisals, insurance and reselling. It is important to know, however, that not all gemstone certifications are created equal. This article will detail the points to look for and what to watch out for when dealing with certified gemstones.

The Basics:

Types of Certificates Available

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Certifying gemstones has become a very lucrative market with a great many companies getting into the business. If you aren’t familiar with the company providing the certificate, you should feel comfortable asking jewelers or people in the industry if they are aware of the company and what their interactions have been. Every certificate is not created equal. You want to ensure your certifying agency is neutral and not involved in the purchase transaction.

The American Gemological Society is well regarded in the jewelry industry in terms of their gemstone certifying process. AGS will also allow you to verify their certificates after the fact. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA)’s certificates are also highly regarded.

There are other labs, such as EGL, that certify a great many diamonds, but are perceived to be ‘off’ by several grades for their color and clarity when compared to AGS and GIA certifications. Therefore, it is important that you know these differences when comparing certification from different laboratories and before taking their grades as “fact”.

GIS Certification

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A GIA certification or report can be ordered by anyone. They can do anything for you from verifying the authenticity of a stone (they have information on their website that breaks down the cost by carat weight of the stone) to a full diamond grading report. They can also apply a microscopic laser inscription on the diamond’s girdle with a special message or code for a small fee.

Something that a certificate cannot give you, though, is a beautiful stone. Though they may provide additional confidence in a purchase, the certificate shouldn’t be the most important item when deciding between gemstones. Be sure to listen to your heart, but also know that a gemstone that looks good on paper might not light up for you as much as one with slightly lower grades. Trust your preference.

Gemstones are beautiful treasures, with or without certifications. Certifications do, however, often offer the buyer confidence and transparency for large purchases. They provide documentation for the buyer and a basis for any future transactions on that stone. They are appreciated and helpful for appraisals and insurance purposes. Whilst they are helpful in generating confidence in the purchase of gemstones, they should not be the sole basis of the purchase; buy the stone not the paper!

Have you purchased a certified gemstone in the past or been looking at one recently? Were you unsure about what you were being told? Share your story with us.


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What is GIS

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